2007 Emerging Answers y

douglas kirby, ph.d.
november, 2007
Research Findings on Programs
to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
board of directors
The Hon. Thomas H. Kean
Chairman, The Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation
CEO, THK Consulting
Isabel V. Sawhill, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Economic Studies
The Brookings Institution
Sarah Brown
Robert Wm. Blum, M.D.,
M.P.H, Ph.D.
William H. Gates Sr,
Professor and Chair
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health
Department of Population &
Family Health Sciences
Ms. Linda Chavez
The Center for Equal
Vanessa Cullins, M.D., M.P.H.,
Vice President for
Medical Affairs
Planned Parenthood Federation
of America
Ms. Susanne Daniels
Lifetime Entertainment Services
Lifetime Television
Ms. Maria Echaveste
Nueva Vista Group, LLC
Ms. Daisy Expósito-Ulla
Chairman and CEO
d expósito & partners
Mrs. Victoria P. Sant
The Summit Foundation
William Galston, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow,
Governance Studies
The Brookings Institution
Sara Seims, Ph.D.
Director, Population Program
The William and Flora Hewlett
Mr. David R. Gergen
U.S. News & World Report
Matthew Stagner, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Chapin Hall Center for Children
University of Chicago
Ron Haskins, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Economic Studies
Center for Children and Families
The Brookings Institution
Ms. Alexine Jackson
Community Volunteer
The Hon. Nancy L. Johnson
Senior Public Policy Advisor
Federal Public Policy and
Healthcare Group
Baker, Donelson, Bearman,
Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
Ms. Jody Greenstone Miller
President and CEO
The Business Talent Group
Fr. Michael D. Place, STD
Vice President, Ministry
Resurrection Health Care
Mr. Bruce Rosenblum
Warner Bros. Television Group
Mr. Stephen W. Sanger
Chairman and Chief Executive
General Mills, Inc.
Ms. Mary C. Tydings
Managing Director
Russell Reynolds Associates
Mr. Roland C. Warren
National Fatherhood Initiative
The Hon. Vincent Weber
Clark & Weinstock
Mr. Stephen A. Weiswasser
Covington & Burling
Gail R. Wilensky, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
Project HOPE
Kimberlydawn Wisdom, M.D.
Surgeon General, State of
Vice President, Community
Health, Education, and
Wellness, Henry Ford
Health System
douglas kirby, ph.d.
With Important contributions from B.A. Laris, MPH
november, 2007
Research Findings on Programs
to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The National Campaign warmly recognizes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their generous support of the National Campaign’s efforts from
the very beginning and for making it possible for the
National Campaign to expand its mission. With the
Foundation’s assistance, we will continue to press for
further reductions in teen pregnancy and will now
also help young adults prevent pregnancies that are
neither wanted nor welcomed.
Emerging Answers 2007 is part of the National
Campaign’s “Putting What Works to Work”
(PWWTW) project, an effort to publish and disseminate the latest research on teen pregnancy in
straightforward, easy-to understand language and
provide clear implications for policy, programs,
and parents. PWWTW is funded by the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is
supported by grant number U88/CCU32213901. Materials developed as part of this project are
solely the responsibility of the authors and do not
necessarily represent the official views of CDC. The
National Campaign wishes to thank the CDC for
making Emerging Answers 2007 possible and for their
support of this portion of the National Campaign’s
research program.
The National Campaign also wishes to thank Blair
Potter Burns for her contributions to this volume.
Her steady and skilled editing has improved this
volume in countless ways. We also thank the Effective Programs and Research Task Force and other
individuals for their careful review of this document
and helpful suggestions.
Last but certainly not least, we offer special thanks
and recognition to author Doug Kirby, Ph.D. When
it comes to helping understand what programs work
best to prevent teen pregnancy, his contributions are
unmatched. We thank him for his scholarship, commitment, fairness, and abiding patience in seeing this
project through.
Author’s Acknowledgments
In addition to the people noted above in the Campaign’s acknowledgments, especially Blair Potter
Burns, the author would like to thank several people.
B.A. Laris made particularly important contributions
to this report. She read all 115 studies measuring the
impact of programs, summarized each of them, sent
the summaries to the original authors for verification,
coded each of the studies, reconciled any differences
in coding with the author of this report, created SPSS
files for the studies, and generated most of the tables
for this report.
The author would like to express a great deal of appreciation to Bill Albert for his continual encouragement, his good humor, his willingness to let the author keep adding the latest studies in the field even as
deadlines passed, his constructive ideas for layout, and
the innumerable activities he orchestrated and completed himself to put this all together. Many thanks
to Katherine Suellentrop, also at the Campaign, for
finding and checking many updated statistics on teen
sexual activity, pregnancy and STD rates. Several
members of the Campaign’s Effective Programs and
Research Task Force made important contributions.
For example, Rebecca Maynard raised excellent
methodological concerns which led to a much stronger analysis of the strength of the evidence and Brent
Miller suggested many improvements to this report.
And finally very strong thanks to Forrest Alton of the
South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
and both Lori Rolleri and Karin Coyle at ETR Associates for reading different versions of this volume
and making many helpful suggestions about topics
to include, and methods of expressing results clearly,
completely and in a balanced manner.
©Copyright 2007 by the National Campaign
to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1-58671-070-2
Suggested citation: Kirby, D. (2007).
Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to
Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen
and Unplanned Pregnancy
Design: Nancy Bratton Design
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
effective programs and research task force
(This document was reviewed by the task force as confirgured in early 2007.)
Brent Miller, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research
Utah State University
Kathryn Edin, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania
Saul D. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Economics
University of Delaware
Jim Jaccard, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Florida International University
Melissa S. Kearney, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Economics
Department of Economics
University of Maryland
Daniel T. Lichter, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Policy Analysis
& Management
Cornell University
William Marsiglio, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Sociology
University of Florida
Rebecca A. Maynard, Ph.D.
University Trustee Chair Professor
University of Pennsylvania
Anne Meier, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
University of Minnesota
Susan Philliber, Ph.D.
Senior Partner
Philliber Research Associates
John Santelli, M.D., M.P.H.
Heilbrunn Department of Population
and Family Health
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University
Matthew Stagner, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Chapin Hall Center for Children
Stan Weed, Ph.D.
Institute for Research & Evaluation
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
he United States has made extraordinary progress in reducing teen
pregnancy and birth rates. More
teens are delaying sex and those that
are sexually active are using contraception more
consistently and carefully. Both of these developments have made important contributions to the
impressive decline in teen pregnancy and childbearing.
Recent years have also brought good news on
the research front. As Doug Kirby so carefully
points out in Emerging Answers 2007, the quality and quantity of evaluation research in this
field has improved dramatically and there is now
more persuasive evidence than ever before that a
limited number of programs can delay sexual activity, improve contraceptive use among sexually
active teens, and/or prevent teen pregnancy. Of
course, this is a very welcome development for
all of us who care about the well-being of young
people and the next generation of children who
deserve to be raised by adult parents.
Over the years, the National Campaign has produced and disseminated a number of detailed reports and publications on such topics as parental
influence, the role of peers, media influence, and
the costs of teen pregnancy. Still, the question we
are asked most frequently is: what programs work
to prevent teen pregnancy? In Emerging Answers
2007—an update of Emerging Answers (2001)
and No Easy Answers (1997)—Dr. Kirby provides
some answers to the important question of “what
works.” We are confident that this review will be
as popular and influential as its predecessors.
The National Campaign would like to thank Dr.
Kirby for his scholarship and for producing this
thorough research review. In particular, we recognize his dogged commitment to being fair and
evenhanded in his assessment of the research. In
the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted
that Dr. Kirby, who is a Senior Research Scientist
at ETR Associates, has a well-deserved reputation as a high-quality evaluation researcher.
Consequently and not surprisingly, a number of
Dr. Kirby’s own studies of programs appear in
this publication. In addition, Dr. Kirby thought
it important to also note that ETR Associates
developed and continues to market several of the
curricula reviewed in Emerging Answers 2007.
Having accurate, research-based information on
what works to prevent teen pregnancy is critically important information for communities and
practitioners trying to make informed decisions
about preventing teen pregnancy. Even so—because teen pregnancy has many causes, and
because even effective programs do not eliminate the problem—it is unreasonable to expect
any single curriculum or community program
to make a serious dent in the problem of teen
pregnancy on its own. Making true and lasting
progress in preventing teen pregnancy requires
a combination of community programs and
broader efforts to influence values and popular
culture, to engage parents and schools, to change
the economic incentives that face teens, and
more. Another reason why it is unfair to place
the entire responsibility for solving the problem
of teen pregnancy on the back of community
efforts is that many of these programs—even
those deemed effective—often have only modest
results, many are fragile and poorly-funded, and
most of these programs serve only a fraction of
all the kids in the area who are at risk.
Readers of this review should also consider that
even though a program may have been shown to
be effective in changing behavior, it is important
to think carefully about what an effective program actually can accomplish. Some things to
IHow do you define effective? For example,
is a program effective if its good results last
only a relatively brief amount of time or only
among boys? In other words, pay careful
attention to the specific results of program
evaluation and think carefully about what
constitutes success. Is a 10 percent improvement enough? What if a program helps on
one issue but makes another issue worse?
I Consider the magnitude of success. For
example, if a program is successful at delaying first sex among participants, how long was
the average delay? An effective program may
only change things a bit.
I Keep in mind that there may very well be a
number of creative programs that are effective in helping young people avoid risky
sexual behavior that simply have not yet been
As we said in this space in 2001, in the final
analysis, professionals working with youth should
not adopt simplistic solutions with little chance
of making a dent on the complex problem of
teen pregnancy. Instead, all should be encouraged by both the impressive declines in teen
pregnancy and the growing amount of research
showing that some programs can make a difference. Those programs with the best evidence for
success should be replicated, new efforts should
be built on the common elements of successful
programs, and more effort should be given to
exploring, developing, and evaluating new and
innovative approaches to preventing too-early
pregnancy and parenthood.
Sarah S. Brown
National Campaign to Prevent
Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
October 2007
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
author’s preface
It is now six years since I wrote Emerging Answers, and the number of studies measuring program impact on adolescent sexual behavior has
increased by fifty percent. Thus, I am once again
updating my review.
Four years later, I updated the review and wrote
Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs
to Reduce Teen Pregnancy. Those findings were
definitely more positive. Larger, more rigorous studies of some sex and STD/HIV education
programs had found sustained positive effects
on behavior for as long as three years, and one
program that combined both sexuality education
and youth development (i.e., the Children’s Aid
Society-Carrera Program) reduced pregnancy rates
for three years. In addition, both service learning
programs (i.e., voluntary community service with
group discussions and reflection) and at least one
sex and HIV education program (Reducing the
Risk) had been found to reduce sexual risk-taking
or pregnancy in several settings by independent
research teams. Finally, there was emerging evidence that some shorter, more modest clinic interventions involving educational materials coupled
with one-on-one counseling could increase the
use of contraceptives. All of these findings were
Just as the results summarized in Emerging Answers were more positive than those in No Easy
Answers, these new results are more positive than
those summarized in Emerging Answers. Our field
continues to progress. The percentage of sex
and STD/HIV education programs with positive
effects on behavior continues to increase and
the strength of their evidence has also increased.
Moreover, there are now several programs that
have been evaluated multiple times, and the results suggest that when the original programs are
implemented with fidelity in similar settings with
similar populations of young people, their positive effects on behavior are also replicated. The
common characteristics of effective programs
have been expanded to include their development, content, and implementation, and there is
greater evidence supporting those characteristics. We also know more about which mediating
factors (e.g., knowledge, attitudes, perceptions
of peer norms, self-efficacy, intentions, etc.)
are changed by the programs and in turn affect
behavior. In addition, there is good evidence
that interactive video-based and computer-based
interventions can be effective and that providing emergency contraception to girls and young
women in advance of having sex can increase the
use of that emergency contraception. Finally,
there is increasing evidence that programs for
parents of adolescents can lead to greater parentteen communication about sexual behavior and
to actual changes in adolescent sexual behavior,
n 1997, I wrote No Easy Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen
Pregnancy for the National Campaign to
Prevent Teen Pregnancy. At that time,
with only a few exceptions, most studies assessing
the impact of programs to reduce sexual risk-taking by teens failed either to measure or to find
sustained, long-term effects on behavior. Of the
few studies that appeared to have more than a
short-term impact, none had been evaluated two
or more times by independent researchers and
found to be effective. In general, the research
indicated that there were “no easy answers”
to markedly reducing teen pregnancy in the
United States.
especially if the adolescents are also involved in
the programs.
Despite these encouraging results, getting young
people to delay having sex or to use protection
against pregnancy and STD remains a challenge.
There are many factors in young people’s lives
that affect their sexual behavior, for example,
their own sexual drive and desire for intimacy,
their family’s values, their friends’ values and behavior, their own attitudes and skills, the media,
the monitoring of young people by their community, and opportunities for the future in their
community. Most, but not all, of the programs
designed to reduce risky sexual behavior are
very modest. Thus, when they strive to partially
overcome some or all of these other factors, and
thereby to change adolescent sexual behavior,
they do face a daunting task.
Consequently, none of these programs is a
complete solution. Typically, the more effective
programs may reduce one or more types of risky
behavior by roughly one-third. Just as people can
view a glass of water as being two-thirds empty
or one-third full, so they should recognize that
none of these programs comes close to eliminating
sexual risk-taking—and that roughly two-thirds
of that behavior may continue to occur. However,
given the modest nature of most of these programs, if some of them can reduce risky sexual
behavior by roughly one-third, they could have a
programmatically meaningful impact on pregnancy and STD rates and should be implemented
far more broadly.
Given all of the results from all of the studies, a
technically accurate title for this review might
have been “Multiple Partial Answers.” However, that is not a very catchy title. Furthermore,
answers are still emerging and will continue to
emerge for years to come, and in many ways this
review builds on the research criteria, the organization, and the content of Emerging Answers.
Accordingly, it is called Emerging Answers 2007:
Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Disease.
While most of this review focuses on the effects
of programs designed to change risky sexual
behavior, it is also true that in recent years, we
have learned more about the behavior that affects the transmission of STDs and the risk and
protective factors that affect that behavior. Accordingly, this review includes an entirely new
chapter on behavior affecting pregnancy and
STD transmission.
I hope this review is helpful to your planning and
implementation of effective programs.
Douglas Kirby, Ph.D.
September 2007
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
executive summary
n the six years since The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy published Emerging Answers: Research Findings
on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, the
number of studies measuring program impact
has increased by 50 percent, their methodological rigor has improved substantially, and
additional studies on the behavior that affects
teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease
(STD) as well as the factors affecting that behavior have been published. These developments
are heartening because they give a clearer picture
of which programs are effective and why. Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs
to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted
Disease summarizes all of this research.
Other heartening developments are the continuing declines in teen pregnancy and birth
rates, which have now dropped by about onethird since the early 1990s. While many factors
undoubtedly contributed to these declines,
part of the credit goes to the many, varied
pregnancy and STD/HIV prevention programs
designed and implemented by dedicated reproductive health and youth development professionals in concert with service agencies, community leaders, teachers, parents, and religious
leaders. Even more important, of course, are
teenagers’ responses to these efforts: slightly
larger percentages of teens are delaying having
sexual intercourse, and greater percentages of
teens are using condoms and other forms of
contraception if they do have sex.
terms of the costs to the teens involved, their
children, and society at large. Rates of many
reported STDs are also high among U.S. teens.
This review summarizes research results on
sexual risk behavior and its consequences. It
identifies the particular types of adolescent sexual risk-taking behavior that affect pregnancy
and STDs. It provides an overview of important
factors that influence such sexual risk-taking.
The report goes on to describe the programs
and approaches that have reduced teen sexual
risk-taking and teen pregnancy or STD. It
expands the list of programs with strong evidence of impact, describes the characteristics of
effective sex and STD/HIV education programs
contributing to their success and provides new
evidence for other promising approaches to
reducing sexual risk. Finally, Emerging Answers
2007 describes promising strategies for organizations and communities that want to select,
adapt, design or implement prevention programs for their own teens.
This review is not all-encompassing, however.
It examines only primary prevention programs:
it does not include programs to prevent second pregnancies and births to teenage mothers, although some strategies for avoiding first
pregnancies and births apply to later ones as
well. Moreover, it does not assess the efficacy
of various methods of contraception, and it
does not consider same-sex aspects of preventing STDs, including HIV.
Despite this good news, pregnancy and birth
rates among U.S. teens remain very high, both
relative to other developed countries and in
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
prevalence and consequences
of sexual risk-taking
When teens become pregnant or contract an
STD, they, their children, and society at large
often pay a significant price, both in human
and in monetary terms. The following statistics
describe their sexual activity and show why it is
important to improve efforts to prevent sexual
risk-taking among teens:
There are still too-high levels of sexual risk-taking among teens:
IRoughly half (47 percent ) of all high school
students in the U.S. report having sex at least
once, and close to two-thirds (63 percent )
report having sex by the spring semester of
their senior year of high school. This behavior puts them at risk of both pregnancy and
infection with an STD.
IAlthough 80 to 90 percent of teens report using contraception the most recent time they
had sexual intercourse, many teenagers do
not use contraceptives carefully and consistently. Among 15- to 19-year-old girls relying
upon oral contraceptives, only 70 percent
take a pill every day.
This unprotected sexual activity leads to high
pregnancy and birth rates among teens:
IAbout 75 of every 1,000 girls age 15 to 19
became pregnant in 2002 (the last year for
which data are available), which means that,
cumulatively, more than 30 percent of teenage
girls in the United States become pregnant at
least once by the age of 20. Despite declines
in all major racial/ethnic groups, there remain
large racial/ethnic disparities in these rates.
In absolute numbers, about 764,000 girls of
all racial/ethnic groups under age 20 become
pregnant each year. More than 80 percent of
these pregnancies are unintended.
IAbout 40 of every 1,000 girls age 15 to 19
gave birth in 2005 (the last year for which
data are available). This is important because
births to teens have negative consequences
for the mothers and their children. Despite
recent declines in overall birth rates to teens,
the percentage of births to unmarried girls
under age 20 has risen dramatically, reaching
83 percent in 2005. This is important because
births outside of marriage generally have
more negative consequences for both mothers and their children.
ITeenage mothers are less likely to complete
school, less likely to go to college, more likely
to have large families, and more likely to be
single—increasing the likelihood that they
and their children will live in poverty. Negative consequences are particularly severe for
younger mothers and their children.
IChildren of teenage mothers are likely to
have less supportive and stimulating home
environments, lower cognitive development,
less education, more behavior problems, and
higher rates of both incarceration (for boys)
and adolescent childbearing.
IMonetary costs are also high. Teen childbearing cost taxpayers $9.1 billion in 2004.
Sexual risk-taking has also resulted in high rates
of STD among teens:
IYoung people age 15 to 24 account for onequarter of the sexually active population in
the United States but nearly one-half of all
new cases of STDs. Nearly 4 million new
cases occur each year among teens. As a
result, about one-third of all sexually active
young people become infected with an STD
by age 24.
IRates of some STDs have declined among
teens, while others have increased.
IThe prevalence of HIV is low among young
adults in general, but the estimated number
of HIV/AIDS cases among teens rose between
2001 and 2005. By the end of 2005, 6,324
AIDS cases had been reported among 13- to
IThe human costs of some STDs are high,
both for individual teens and for society.
These diseases can lead to infertility, ectopic
pregnancy, cancer, and other health problems
and can cause long-term emotional suffering and stress. Moreover, having an STD can
increase the likelihood of contracting HIV.
IMany STDs are curable, but some, such as
types of behavior, such as abstinence and the use
of condoms by teens who do have sex, will not
necessarily produce conflicting messages unless
organizations denigrate each other’s approaches.
herpes simplex virus type 2 and HIV, are not.
IThe monetary cost of STDs among teens is
unknown, but direct costs of curable STDs
among all sexually active Americans have
been estimated at $8.4 billion per year.
types of sexual behavior that
affect pregnancy and std
Most programs that seek to prevent teen pregnancy target behavior in two areas: abstinence,
which enables teens to avoid pregnancy, and
the correct and consistent use of contraception,
which reduces the risk of pregnancy for sexually active teens. For the most part, programs
that positively affect these types of behavior help
reduce teen pregnancy.
However, preventing STDs requires a more
complex approach. In addition to promoting
abstinence and condom use, programs to prevent STDs can emphasize reducing the number
of sexual partners, avoiding concurrent sexual
partners (and people who have concurrent partners), increasing the number of weeks or months
between sexual partners, testing for and treatment of STDs, vaccination against HPV (the
human papillomavirus) and hepatitis B, and male
Whenever appropriate, programs to prevent
pregnancy and programs to prevent STDs should
focus on preventing both outcomes. After all,
concerns about both pregnancy and STD motivate teens to avoid sexual risk.
Communities need to send clear, consistent
messages about appropriate sexual behavior.
Not every organization in a community needs
to advocate every method of reducing the risk
of teen pregnancy and STDs, but it is important
that organizations avoid sending conflicting messages to young people. Emphasizing different
factors influencing teen sexual
Nearly all teenagers experience pressure to have
sex at some time or other and therefore nearly
all teens are at risk of pregnancy and STD. What
causes a teen to decide to have sex or to use or
not use condoms or other forms of contraception, if they do have sex? Research has identified
more than 500 risk and protective factors that
influence teens’ sexual behavior. Risk factors
increase the likelihood of pregnancy or STD;
protective factors decrease the likelihood.
Effective programs change teens’ sexual behavior by acting on the risk and protective factors
that influence such behavior. Positive changes in
sexual behavior may, in turn, result in lower rates
of teen pregnancy or STD. Therefore, an understanding of risk and protective factors is necessary not only for changing teen sexual behavior,
but also for explaining how and why programs
are effective. Programs should focus on those risk
and protective factors that they can markedly improve and that causally affect sexual risk behavior.
The presence (or absence) of risk and protective
factors can also help in identifying which teens
are most at risk of having sex or having unprotected sex.
Results of some 450 studies demonstrate that
risk and protective factors are both very numerous and extremely diverse. They stem from a
teen’s biological makeup (especially sex, age, and
physical maturity), home and community environments (especially the sexual values expressed
and modeled by the home and community and
the disadvantage or disorganization of the home
and community), the teen’s friends and peers
(especially their sexual values and behavior),
the teen’s romantic partners, and the teen’s own
sexual values and attitudes. They also include
connection to family, school, and other groups or
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
institutions that discourage risky sexual behavior, encourage responsible behavior, or both.
Thus, many of the factors involve some aspect of
sexuality (for example, sexual values and confidence to avoid unprotected sex) and are therefore
considered sexual factors. Other important factors
do not involve sexuality (for example, plans for the
future) and are considered nonsexual. Prevention
programs have successfully targeted both types of
factors, as well as a combination of the two. Of all
the known risk and protective factors, teens’ own
sexual beliefs, values, attitudes, and intentions are
the most strongly related to sexual behavior.
criteria for including impact
studies in this review
Conclusions about the effectiveness of various
pregnancy and STD/HIV prevention programs are
only as reliable as the studies on which they are
based. Therefore, to be included in this review,
studies of prevention programs had to meet several
criteria, among them: having been conducted in
the United States; having been completed or published between 1990 and 2007; focusing on teens
age 12 to 18; examining impact on sexual behavior,
use of condoms or other contraceptives, combined
measures of sexual risk, and pregnancy, birth, or
STD/HIV rates; having a reasonably strong experimental or quasi-experimental research design
and a sample size of at least 100 teens; measuring
behavior for a sufficient length of time; and using
appropriate statistical analysis.
The strength of the evidence that a program or a
group of programs are (or are not) effective is also
critical. Emerging Answers 2007 presents 14 criteria that communities and organizations can use to
gauge the quality of research methods and evidence
before deciding how much weight to give the results from individual studies or groups of studies.
findings on programs
Emerging Answers 2007 organizes programs to
prevent teen pregnancy and STD/HIV into three
broad categories: those that focus on sexual
risk and protective factors, those that focus on
nonsexual factors, and those that focus on both.
Successful programs exist in all three categories.
1. programs that focus on sexual
Some programs focus primarily on changing the
psychosocial risk and protective factors that involve sexuality: that is, teens’ knowledge, beliefs,
and attitudes about sex, perceived norms, their
confidence in their skills to avoid sex or to use
condoms or contraception, and their intentions
regarding sexual behavior and the use of contraception. To be effective, such programs must be
straightforward and specific; for example, they
might discuss realistic situations that could lead
to unprotected sex and methods for avoiding
those situations, for remaining abstinent, and
for using condoms and other contraceptives.
Programs that focus on sexual factors are divided
into six groups in this review.
Curriculum-based sex and STD/HIV education
Programs based on a written curriculum and
implemented among groups of teens have been
widely implemented in schools and elsewhere to
prevent teen pregnancy and STD/HIV for many
years. In addition, the vast majority of Americans
support them—more than 80 percent of U.S.
adults believe that comprehensive sex education
programs, which emphasize abstinence, but also
encourage condom and contraceptive use, should
be implemented in schools.
Overall, about two-thirds of the curriculumbased sex and STD/HIV education programs
studied have had positive effects on teen sexual
behavior. For example, they delayed the initiation
of sex, increased condom or contraceptive use, or
both. Virtually all of the programs also improved
sexual protective factors. The programs had
mixed, but encouraging effects on reducing teen
pregnancy, childbearing, and STDs.
An in-depth analysis of effective and ineffective
programs reveals 17 important characteristics of
effective programs (Box 1). These characteristics
described the development of the curricula, their
content (including behavioral goals, messages
about behavior, and teaching strategies), and
their implementation. Most programs with these
17 characteristics were effective; most effective
programs incorporated most of these characteristics; and programs with these characteristics
were more effective than programs without these
The more effective curriculum-based sex and
STD/HIV education programs reduced one or
more measures of sexual risk by roughly a third
or more, but they did not eliminate risk. Thus,
these programs alone cannot prevent all unintended pregnancy or STD, but many of them can
change teens’ sexual behavior and help reduce
teen pregnancy and STD. They should continue
to be an important part of any comprehensive
community prevention initiative.
Abstinence programs
Although sex education programs fall along a
continuum, they can be divided into abstinence
programs, which encourage and expect young
people to remain abstinent, and comprehensive
programs, which encourage abstinence as the safest choice but also encourage young people who
are having sex to always use condoms or other
measures of contraception.
At present, there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the
initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence,
or reduces the number of sexual partners. In
addition, there is strong evidence from multiple
randomized trials demonstrating that some abstinence programs chosen for evaluation because
they were believed to be promising actually had
no impact on teen sexual behavior. That is, they
did not delay the initiation of sex, increase the
return to abstinence or decrease the number of
sexual partners. At the same time, they did not
have a negative impact on the use of condoms or
other contraceptives.
Two less rigorous studies suggest that abstinence
programs may have some positive effects on sexual behavior. One program appeared to delay the
initiation of sex among middle school students
and to decrease current sexual activity, but these
positive results were not replicated in a stronger,
more rigorous study. A second program appeared
to decrease the frequency of sex and reduce the
number of sexual partners.
Many of the abstinence programs improved
teens’ values about abstinence or their intentions to abstain, but these improvements did not
always endure and often did not translate into
changes in behavior.
Even though there does not exist strong evidence
that any particular abstinence program is effective
at delaying sex or reducing sexual behavior, one
should not conclude that all abstinence programs
are ineffective. After all, programs are diverse,
fewer than 10 rigorous studies of these programs
have been carried out, and studies of two programs
have provided modestly encouraging results.
In sum, studies of abstinence programs have not
produced sufficient evidence to justify their widespread dissemination. Instead, efforts should be
directed toward carefully developing and evaluating these programs. Only when strong evidence
demonstrates that particular programs are effective should they be disseminated more widely.
Comprehensive programs
Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs
that supported both abstinence and the use of
condoms and contraceptives for sexually active
teens had positive behavioral effects. Specifically,
over 40 percent of the programs delayed the
initiation of sex, reduced the number of sexual
partners, and increased condom or contraceptive
use; almost 30 percent reduced the frequency of
sex (including a return to abstinence); and more
than 60 percent reduced unprotected sex. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of the programs had
positive effects on more than one of these behaviors. For example, some programs both delayed
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
the initiation of sex and increased condom or
other contraceptive use.
No comprehensive program hastened the initiation of sex or increased the frequency of sex,
results that many people fear. Emphasizing
both abstinence and protection for those who
do have sex is a realistic, effective approach that
does not appear to confuse young people.
Comprehensive programs worked for both
genders, for all major ethnic groups, for sexually
inexperienced and experienced teens, in different
settings, and in different communities. Programs
may be especially likely to be effective in communities where teen pregnancy or STD and HIV
are salient issues and may be less effective where
these issues are not. Some programs’ positive
impact lasted for several years.
Virtually all of the comprehensive programs also
had a positive impact on one or more factors
affecting behavior. In particular, they improved
factors such as knowledge about risks and consequences of pregnancy and STD; values and
attitudes about having sex and using condoms or
contraception; perception of peer norms about
sex and contraception; confidence in the ability
to say “no” to unwanted sex, to insist on using
condoms or contraception, or to actually use
condoms or contraception; intention to avoid
sex or use contraception; and communication
with parents or other adults about these topics.
In part by improving these factors, the programs
changed behavior in desired directions.
An important question is whether a program’s
positive results in one study can be replicated
in other communities by other educators and
research teams. When three programs were
replicated with fidelity in different locations
throughout the United States, but in the same
type of setting, the original positive effects were
confirmed. This is very encouraging and suggests that effective programs can remain effective
when they are implemented with fidelity by other
people in other communities with similar groups
of young people. However, when programs were
substantially shortened, when activities related
to a particular behavior (e.g., use of condoms)
were deleted, or when the programs were implemented in different settings, the original positive
results were not replicated.
Sex and STD/HIV education programs for
parents and their teens
Parents and teenagers have remarkably few
conversations about sexual matters, often because both parents and teens feel uncomfortable
discussing them together. Few parents are willing
or able to participate in special programs, but
studies consistently indicate that when they do,
their communication with their teens and their
own comfort with discussing sexual matters is enhanced. These positive effects seem to dissipate
with time and under some conditions, but not all
conditions may affect teen sexual behavior.
Studies of seven programs for parents of teens indicate that these programs sometimes reduce teens’
sexual risk-taking, particularly if the programs include components for teens that incorporate many
of the 17 characteristics of effective curriculumbased programs for teens. Programs to increase
parental involvement and monitoring may also have
a positive impact, but the evidence is still weak.
Stand-alone video- and computer-based
Most young people, even those in disadvantaged
circumstances, are comfortable with computers
and interactive technology, and studies have shown
that interactive programs can improve knowledge
and attitudes about sexuality. This technology has
several benefits: it is relatively inexpensive, it can
be used in most locations, and it allows programs
to be replicated more easily and with greater fidelity. A possible drawback to stand-alone instruction
is the lack of group interaction.
Does video- and computer-based instruction
change teens’ sexual behavior? No definite
conclusions can be reached yet, but three studies
suggest that short, noninteractive videos alone
may not have any effect on behavior, and that
long, interactive videos that are viewed several
times may have an impact on some behavior, possibly for as long as six months.
Clinic-based programs
Reproductive health clinics are a tried-and-true
way of providing teens with reproductive health
care and improving their knowledge of, access
to, and skill at using condoms or other contraceptives. Many family planning clinics have
special programs for teens. In addition to providing contraception, the vast majority of publicly
funded clinics encourage abstinence for teens,
and encourage teens to discuss sexual issues with
their parents.
Large numbers of young people obtain contraceptives from publicly funded clinics each year,
and presumably those contraceptives prevent
many pregnancies. Large studies in California
demonstrated that when access to confidential
low-cost family planning services was greatly
expanded, the number of teens obtaining contraception from these publicly funded clinics
greatly increased. Nationally, while greater use
of contraception from publicly funded clinics
undoubtedly reduced teen pregnancies, it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of this impact,
because the long-term impact of these family
planning services on teen sexual behavior and on
use of contraception from other sources is not
known. Therefore, the magnitude of the effect
of publicly funded clinics on teen pregnancy is
difficult to estimate.
In contrast to studies that attempted to measure the impact of improving access to family
planning services in general, six studies used
experimental or quasi-experimental designs to
measure impact on clinic protocols within the
clinic. These studies demonstrated that when
clinics provided one-on-one counseling and
information about abstinence and contraception,
presented a clear message about sexual behavior,
and provided condoms or other contraceptives,
they typically did not increase sexual activity but
did consistently increase the use of protection by
teens who were sexually active.
When clinics in four studies provided emergency
contraception to sexually experienced adolescents
in advance of unprotected sex, those young people
were more likely to use emergency contraception
than their counterparts who did not have such
contraception readily available. Advance provision
of emergency contraception did not increase sexual
activity. However, it did not significantly reduce
teen pregnancy rates either, in part because sample
sizes were too small and teens used emergency
contraception too few times.
School-based and school-linked clinics and
school condom-availability programs
Clinics located in or near schools are ideally
situated to provide reproductive health services
to students—they are conveniently located,
confidential, and free; their staff are selected and
trained to work with adolescents; and they can
integrate education, counseling, and medical
services. Some school clinics dispense or provide
prescriptions for contraceptives, and substantial
proportions of sexually experienced students
obtain contraceptives from them.
According to a small number of studies of mixed
quality, providing contraceptives in school-based
clinics does not hasten the onset of sexual intercourse or increase its frequency. But in most
schools, unless clinics focus on pregnancy or
STD/HIV prevention in addition to providing
contraceptives, they do not increase the overall
use of contraceptives markedly or decrease the
overall rates of pregnancy or childbirth. When
the clinics did focus on pregnancy prevention,
gave a clear message about reducing sexual risk
and avoiding pregnancy, and did make contraception available, they may have increased contraceptive use, but the evidence is not strong.
More than 300 schools without clinics make condoms available to students through counselors,
nurses, teachers, vending machines, or baskets. In
general, large proportions of sexually experienced
students obtain condoms from school programs,
particularly when multiple brands of condoms
are freely available in convenient, private locations. Students also obtain condoms from school
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
clinics. According to a small number of studies
of mixed quality, making condoms available in
schools does not hasten the onset of sexual intercourse or increase its frequency. Its impact on
actual use of condoms is less clear.
Community-wide pregnancy or STD/HIV
prevention initiatives with multiple
Many communities have realized that lowering teen pregnancy or STD rates requires more
than isolated programs aimed at discrete groups
of teens. These communities have developed a
variety of broad-based collaborations or initiatives.
Four of six studies of these programs found that
the programs delayed first sex, increased the use
of contraceptives, lowered rates of pregnancy and
childbirth, or produce some combination of these
effects. The findings are particularly impressive
because most of the studies measured impact on
community-wide outcomes, not individual outcomes measured only among those most directly
involved. In addition, initiatives that focus on
pregnancy or STD/HIV prevention, even those
that focus primarily on condom or contraceptive
use, do not hasten or increase sexual activity.
By far the most intensive community-wide program, implemented in Denmark, South Carolina,
may also have been the most effective in terms of
reducing pregnancy. It included extensive sex education in the classroom, individual meetings with
nearly every Medicaid-eligible student (86 percent
of the student body) twice a month to talk about
reproductive health, and community events. Over
many years the pregnancy rate in that area declined more rapidly than the rates in similar areas.
However, when other communities attempted to
replicate this program, but did so poorly, they did
not achieve consistent positive effects.
2. programs that focus on
nonsexual factors
Many nonsexual risk and protective factors affect
adolescents’ sexual behavior. For teenage girls,
protective factors such as good performance in
school, positive plans for the future, and strong
connections to family, school, and faith community all reduce pregnancy and birth rates. In
addition, many types of risky behavior are related
to each other. Consequently, some professionals working with young people have advocated
approaches that focus on the whole individual
rather than separate programs that focus on specific types of behavior and they believe that two
of the most promising approaches to reducing
teen pregnancy are to improve educational and
career opportunities through youth development
programs and to increase the connection between
young people and responsible adults and institutions such as the family, schools, and community
organizations. Professionals have also considered
whether welfare reform might generate new
community norms about work and childbearing
and also cause more low-income parents to work
and thereby curtail adolescent childbearing. Programs that focus on nonsexual risk and protective
factors are divided into three groups.
Welfare reform for adults
At least 16 studies have examined whether changes in the welfare requirements for adults would
have an impact on birth rates among teenage
girls whose parents were on welfare. They most
commonly studied three changes: the requirement that parents work or participate in activities
that would make them more employable, supplements to the income of employed parents, and
limitations on the amount of time families could
receive cash assistance. None of these changes
affected adolescent childbearing. One should
not conclude that welfare policies and programs
that affect adolescents directly have no impact
on childbearing, for such policies and programs
were not evaluated.
Early childhood development programs
Programs designed to enhance the development of
young children may be beneficial for many reasons,
but do those benefits extend to sexual behavior in
adolescence, specifically to reducing teen childbearing? Only two very small studies have tried
to answer that question, so conclusions are tenta-
tive at best. Nevertheless, results are encouraging.
Teens who had been in a year-round preschool
program or in a three-year elementary school
program designed to involve their parents delayed
childbearing by more than a year, scored higher on
a number of intellectual and academic measures,
and obtained more years of education than those
who had not been in the program. The program’s
impact on educational attainment may partially
explain why participants delayed childbearing.
Youth development programs for adolescents
Two common types of youth development programs for adolescents are service learning and
vocational education. By definition, service learning programs have two components: voluntary or
unpaid service in the community (e.g., tutoring,
working in nursing homes, or helping fix up parks
and recreation areas), and structured time for
preparation and reflection before, during, and after
service (e.g., group discussions, journal writing, or
papers). Sometimes the service is voluntary, and
sometimes it is part of a class. Often, the service is
linked to academic instruction in the classroom.
Studies have produced quite strong evidence that
some service learning programs have a positive
impact on teens. One study found that service
learning delayed the initiation of sex among
middle school students, and three studies that
evaluated programs in multiple locations found
that service learning reduced pregnancy rates
during the academic year in which the teens were
involved. The programs differed considerably,
indicating that the content of the curriculum may
not be particularly important, but all of the programs were very intensive and involved students
for many hours (e.g. 40 to 80 hours) after school. It
is not yet known why these programs are effective.
Vocational education and employment programs
typically include academic instruction (or an
educational requirement) and either vocational
education or actual jobs. Three studies evaluated
such programs, all in more than one site. These
programs did not significantly reduce teen pregnancy or birth rates in the long run.
Other youth development programs, such as
those designed to improve the quality of teaching in elementary school and student attachment
to school, very comprehensive and intensive
youth development programs, and programs for
divorced parents and their adolescent children
have produced consistently encouraging results,
but too few studies and too many important
study limitations preclude one from reaching any
definitive conclusions.
3. programs that focus on both
sexual and nonsexual factors
A third group of programs focuses on both
sexual and nonsexual factors affecting teen sexual
behavior. This review divides them into two
Programs that focus on substance abuse,
violence, and sexual risk-taking
Some programs that focus on both sexual and
nonsexual risk and protective factors try to
change other types of risky behavior, such as
alcohol use, drug use, and violence, in addition
to sexual risk-taking. Typically, such programs
attempt to instill a wide range of positive values
in young people in the hope that those values
will discourage them from engaging in antisocial
or risky behavior. By and large, such programs
were not effective, although two of them, Aban
Aya Youth Project and Project AIM, did have longterm positive effects on recent sexual activity and
condom use by teenage boys. Further research is
needed to determine why some programs were
effective and others were not.
Programs that focus on sexual risk-taking, with
sexuality and youth development components
This category actually includes quite diverse
programs. They are discussed separately.
Two programs were intensive abstinence-untilmarriage programs with strong curriculum and
youth development components. They were
found to have no significant effect on initiation of
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
sex, sex in the last 12 months, number of sexual
partners, unprotected sex, pregnancy rates, birth
rates, or STD rates.
One study evaluated several client-centered
programs that provided small-group and individualized services and were designed to improve
teens’ information about sex, strengthen their
coping skills, and provide emotional support and
positive guidance from trusted adults. It found
that these programs did not appear to delay sex
or increase contraceptive use, but they did reduce
the frequency of sex.
Programs for the sisters of pregnant teenagers
are designed to help girls stay in or return to
school, improve their self-esteem, give them the
knowledge and skills they need to make decisions
about their health, improve their access to health
and reproductive health services, and increase
their communication with parents and other
adults. One study indicated that the programs
delayed sex and decreased reported pregnancy
rates, but did not significantly reduce frequency
of sex or number of partners, nor did they increase the use of contraceptives.
Perhaps the most intensive program, conducted
over the longest time was the Children’s Aid
Society-Carrera Program (CAS-Carrera Program).
This program recruited teens when they were
about 13 to15 years old and encouraged them
to participate throughout high school. The
CAS-Carrera Program operated five days a week
and provided services in a wide range of areas:
family life and sex education; general education, including individual academic assessment,
tutoring, preparation for standardized exams, and
assistance with college entrance; employment,
including a job club, stipends, individual bank
accounts, jobs, and career awareness; self-expression through the arts; individual sports; and comprehensive medical care, including mental health
care, reproductive health services, and contraception when needed. In all of these areas, staff
tried to create close, caring relationships with
participants. They also sent a very clear message
about avoiding unprotected sex and pregnancy.
Although the program focused on teens, it also
provided services for the participants’ parents
and other adults in the community. Teens spent
an average of 16 hours per month in the program
during the first three years.
A rigorous study found that the program was
effective for girls, but not boys. Among girls in
six sites in New York City, it delayed first sex,
increased the use of condoms along with another
effective method of contraception, and reduced
pregnancy rates—for three years. However, in
six other sites outside of New York City, not all
of these favorable results for girls were obtained.
Moreover, when communities in another state
attempted to implement the program without
the benefit of training or program materials, the
program did not curtail sexual risk-taking.
what do the findings mean for
Clearly, a wide variety of programs can be effective, especially if they target sexual risk and
protective factors and behavior, but even if they
do not. To reduce teen pregnancy and STDs dramatically, communities may need programs that
focus on the sexual risk and protective factors, for
these are the most highly related to sexual risk
behavior, and also programs that address nonsexual factors that are also related to sexual risk
behavior. This is good news because it increases
the options available to organizations that want
to reduce teen pregnancy and STDs.
But how should organizations go about choosing a program? Should they replicate an existing
program, adapt a program, or design a new one?
The first step is to take stock of what teens need
and what resources the community already offers. For instance, how many teens are having
sex? How many of them use condoms or other
contraceptives? How many become pregnant
or infected with an STD and at what age? Are
STDs a greater or lesser problem than pregnancy? Which STDs are most prevalent? What
are the characteristics of the sexual networks
through which they are transmitted? How good
are existing sex and STD/HIV education programs? Are condoms and other contraceptives
and reproductive health services readily available to teens? What are the barriers teens face in
remaining abstinent or using condoms or other
forms of contraception? What are the other risk
and protective factors that most strongly affect
their sexual behavior? How stable and close-knit
are families? What youth development programs
are available to teens? What are the resources—
staff, organizational, and monetary—available to
implement different kinds of new programs?
After taking stock, organizations should adopt
one of the following strategies:
1. When possible, implement with fidelity
programs found to be effective for similar
populations of teens
2. If careful replication is not possible, select or
design programs that incorporate the key characteristics of effective programs (see Box 1)
3. If neither of these strategies is possible or appropriate, develop a new program using the
process typically completed by designers of effective sex and STD/HIV education programs
(see Box 1).
If an organization implements with fidelity a program that reduced sexual risk in a similar group
of teens in a similar setting, chances are good
that the results will be similar. If several studies
found the program to be effective when replicated in different communities by different groups,
the chances of success are even greater.
Fifteen very different programs in different settings have strong evidence of positive impact on
behavior (Box 2). Organizations and communities should seriously consider these programs.
Organizations and communities may also want
to adapt these programs or even explore others as well, including promising programs that
need further study. After all, no existing program
matches the needs of every group, is suited to
the values or resources of every community, or,
for that matter, eliminates sexual risk-taking
and pregnancy among teens. To be effective,
programs must address the particular needs
of the participating teens (e.g., their incorrect
beliefs, their negative attitudes or their lack of
skills). New guidelines and materials for adapting
programs without diminishing their effectiveness will soon be available through the Division
of Reproductive Health at CDC. Developing
a new program poses a much greater challenge
than replicating or adapting an existing one, but
it gives program designers far more flexibility.
When organizations develop new programs, they
should consider completing the activities commonly used to develop effective programs and
they should strive to develop programs incorporating as many of the characteristics and components of effective programs as possible.
For decades, dedicated adults have worked with
teens to prevent unintended pregnancy. Their
efforts have been rewarded with declining rates
of pregnancy and childbirth. Prevention efforts
have also resulted in lower rates of some STDs.
An increasingly robust body of research is clarifying the types of behavior that most strongly
affect pregnancy and STD/HIV transmission, is
identifying the factors that influence sexual risktaking and is revealing the effects of programs
on teen sexual behavior and rates of pregnancy
and STD. Yet pregnancy and STD rates are still
high, and both more research and more effective
programs are needed.
The challenge now is to continue building on
these successes. Communities need to integrate
what is learned from experience with what is
learned from research and then use that knowledge to guide the development of more effective
programs for teens. Such programs will help
young people avoid pregnancy and STDs, make
a more successful transition to adulthood, and
prepare to be the parents of the next generation.
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
Box 1: Characteristics of Effective Curriculum-Based Programs
the process of
developing the
the contents of the
curriculum itself
the process of
the curriculum
1. Involved multiple people
with expertise in theory,
research, and sex and STD/
HIV education to develop
the curriculum
curriculum goals and objectives
14. Secured at least minimal
support from appropriate
authorities, such as
departments of health,
school districts, or
community organizations
2. Assessed relevant needs
and assets of the target
3. Used a logic model
approach that specified
the health goals, the types
of behavior affecting
those goals, the risk and
protective factors affecting
those types of behavior,
and activities to change
those risk and protective
4. Designed activities
consistent with community
values and available
resources (e.g., staff time,
staff skills, facility space
and supplies)
5. Pilot-tested the program
6. Focused on clear health goals—the
prevention of STD/HIV, pregnancy, or
7. Focused narrowly on specific
types of behavior leading to these
health goals (e.g., abstaining from
sex or using condoms or other
contraceptives), gave clear messages
about these types of behavior, and
addressed situations that might
lead to them and how to avoid them
8. Addressed sexual psychosocial risk
and protective factors that affect
sexual behavior (e.g., knowledge,
perceived risks, values, attitudes,
perceived norms, and self-efficacy)
and changed them
activities and teaching methodologies
9.Created a safe social environment for young people to participate
10. Included multiple activities to
change each of the targeted risk
and protective factors
11. Employed instructionally sound
teaching methods that actively
involved participants, that helped
them personalize the information,
and that were designed to change
the targeted risk and protective
12. Employed activities, instructional
methods, and behavioral messages
that were appropriate to the teens’
culture, developmental age, and
sexual experience
13. Covered topics in a logical sequence
15. Selected educators with
desired characteristics
(whenever possible),
trained them, and
provided monitoring,
supervision, and support
16. If needed, implemented
activities to recruit
and retain teens and
overcome barriers to
their involvement (e.g.,
publicized the program,
offered food or obtained
17. Implemented virtually all
activities with reasonable
Box 2: Programs with Strong Evidence of Positive Impact on Sexual
Behavior or Pregnancy or STD Rates
Curriculum-Based Sex and STD/HIV Education Programs
1. Becoming a Responsible Teen: An HIV Risk Reduction Program for Adolescents [1]
2. ¡Cuídate! (Take Care of Yourself ) The Latino Youth Health Promotion Program [2]
3. Draw the Line, Respect the Line [3-5] (Implemented with both genders; found effective for boys only)
4. Making Proud Choices: A Safer Sex Approach to HIV/STDs and Teen Pregnancy Prevention [6]
5. Reducing the Risk: Building Skills to Prevent Pregnancy, STD & HIV [7]
6. Safer Choices: Preventing HIV, Other STD and Pregnancy [8-11]
7. SiHLE: Sistas, Informing, Healing, Living, Empowering [12] (Implemented and effective for girls only)
Mother-Adolescent Programs
8. Keepin’ It R.E.A.L.! [13]1
Clinic Protocols and One-on-One Programs
9. Advance provision of emergency contraception (Implemented and effective for girls only)
10. Reproductive Health Counseling for Young Men [14]
Community Programs with Multiple Components
11. HIV Prevention for Adolescents in Low-Income Housing Developments [15]
Service Learning2
12. Reach for Health Community Youth Service Learning [16]
13. Teen Outreach Program [17]
Multi-Component Programs with Intensive Sexuality and Youth Development Components
14. Aban Aya [18] (Implemented with both genders; found effective for boys only)
15. Children’s Aid Society Carrera Program [19] (Implemented with both genders;
found effective for girls only)3
1. A similar program for fathers and their sons is called REAL Men. An evaluation of it provided evidence of impact on delay
in sex and greater condom use, but it is not included in this list because only seven Boys and Girls Clubs were randomly
assigned to intervention groups.
2. All of the service learning programs that have been evaluated, including Reach for Health Community Youth Service, Teen
Outreach Program, and Learn and Serve, have found results suggesting a positive impact upon either sexual behavior or
pregnancy. According to the evaluation of TOP, the particular curriculum used in the small-group component did not appear
to be critical to the success of service learning. Evaluation of the Learn and Serve programs did not meet the criteria for
inclusion here because it did not use an experimental design, but it did confirm the impact of service learning on pregnancy,
especially among middle school youth.
3. This program has provided the strongest evidence of reducing pregnancy for three years as reported by girls. However, when
not implemented in New York City it was less effective, and when not implemented with the benefit of CAS-Carrera training,
materials, and oversight in one study, it was not effective.
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
1. St. Lawrence, J. S. (2005). Becoming a Responsible Teen: An HIV
Risk-Reduction Program for Adolescents. Scotts Valley, CA: ETR
12. DiClemente, R., Wingood, G., Harrington, K., Lang, D., Davies, S.,
Hook, E. W., III, et al. (2006). SiHLE: Health Workshops for Young
Black Women. Los Altos, CA: Sociometrics.
2. Villarruel, A. M., Jemmott, L. S., & Jemmott, J. B., III.
(Unpublished). Cuidate! A curriculum to reduce sexual risk
behavior among Latino youth. .Ann Arbor, MI: University of
13. DiIorio, C., Resnicow, K., McCarty, F., De, A. K., Dudley, W. N.,
Wang, D. T., et al. (Unpublished). Keepin’ It R.E.A.L.! . Atlanta,
GA: Emory University.
3. Coyle, K., Marin, B., Gardner, C., Cummings, J., Gomez, C., &
Kirby, D. (2003). Draw the Line/Respect the Line: Setting Limits
to Prevent HIV, STD and Pregnancy: Grade 7. Scotts Valley, CA:
ETR Associates.
4. Marin, B., Coyle, K., Cummings, J., Gardner, C., Gomez, C., &
Kirby, D. (2003). Draw the Line/Respect the Line: Setting Limits
to Prevent HIV, STD and Pregnancy: Grade 8. Scotts Valley, CA:
ETR Associates.
5. Marin, B., Coyle, K., Gomez, C., Jinich, S., & Kirby, D. (2003).
Draw the Line/Respect the Line: Setting Limits to Prevent HIV,
STD and Pregnancy: Grade 6. Scotts Valley, CA: ETR Associates.
6. Jemmott, L. S., Jemmott, J. B., III, & McCaffree, K. (2002).
Making Proud Choices! A Safer-Sex Approach to HIV/STDs and
Teen Pregnancy Prevention. New York: Select Media.
14. Danielson, R., Plunkett, A., Marcy, S., Wiest, W., & Greenlick, M.
(2003). Reproductive Health Counseling for Young Men. Los
Altos, CA: Sociometrics.
15. Sikkema, K., Anderson, E., Kelly, J., Winett, R., Gore-Felton,
C., Roffman, R., et al. (2005). Outcomes of a randomized,
controlled community-level HIV prevention intervention
for adolescents in low-income housing developments. AIDS,
19(14), 1509-1516.
16. O’Donnell, L., Doval, A. S., Duran, R., Haber, D., Atnafou, R.,
Piessens, P., et al. (2003). Reach for Health: A School Sponsored
Community Youth Service Intervention for Middle School
Students. Los Altos, CA: Sociometrics.
17. Wyman Center, Inc. (2007). Changing Scenes. St Louis, MO:
Wyman Center, Inc.
7. Barth, R. P. (2004). Reducing the Risk: Building Skills to Prevent
Pregnancy, STD and HIV. Scotts Valley, CA: ETR Associates.
18. Flay, B., Graumlich, S., & The Aban Aya Team. (2006). Aban Aya
Youth Project: Preventing high-risk behaviors among African
American youth grades 5-8. Los Altos, CA: Sociometrics.
8. Coyle, K., & Fetro, J. V. (1998). Safer Choices: Preventing HIV,
Other STD and Pregnancy: Level 2. Scotts Valley, CA: ETR
19. Carrera, M. (2006). Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent
Pregnancy Prevention Program. New York City: Children’s Aid
Society—Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program.
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Pregnancy: Peer leader training guide. Scotts Valley, CA: ETR
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about the author
Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Scientist at ETR Associates
in Scotts Valley, California. For 30 years, he has directed state-wide or
nation-wide studies of adolescent sexual behavior, abstinence programs,
sexuality and STD/HIV education programs, school-based clinics, school
condom-availability programs and youth development programs. He coauthored research on the Reducing the Risk, Safer Choices, Draw the Line
and All4You! curricula, all of which significantly reduced unprotected
sex, either by delaying sex, reducing the number of partners, increasing
condom use, or increasing contraceptive use. He has identified important
behaviors that affect the sexual transmission of STDs, painted a more
comprehensive and detailed picture of the risk and protective factors
associated with adolescent sexual behavior, contraceptive use, and
pregnancy, and identified important common characteristics of effective
sexuality education and HIV education programs. In 1997 he authored No
Easy Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and
in 2001, he authored Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs
to Reduce Teen Pregnancy. In 2005, he completed a review of 83 studies
of sex and HIV education around the entire world. Over the years, he
has also authored or co-authored more than 100 volumes, articles and
chapters on adolescent sexual behavior and programs designed to change
that behavior. These have included reviews of the field for the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control, the
National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization, among
others. He has also conducted research in Ugand a on the factors leading to
the reduction of HIV transmission in that country.
national campaign to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy | emerging answers 2007
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy seeks
to improve the lives and future prospects of children and families and, in
particular, to help ensure that children are born into stable, two-parent
families who are committed to and ready for the demanding task of raising
the next generation. Our specific strategy is to prevent teen pregnancy and
unplanned pregnancy among single, young adults. We support a combination
of responsible values and behavior by both men and women and responsible
policies in both the public and private sectors.
If we are successful, child and family well-being will improve. There will be
less poverty, more opportunities for young men and women to complete their
education or achieve other life goals, fewer abortions, and a stronger nation.
For many years, people concerned about
preventing teen pregnancy have turned to
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and
Unplanned Pregnancy for help in determining
what programs are likely to work for the
teens in their community. Emerging Answers
2007 offers such help.
1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW · Suite 200 · Washington, DC 20036 · 202-478-8500
TeenPregnancy.org / TheNationalCampaign.org / StayTeen.org